I. James Madison by Jack N. Rakove
II. The Law by Frederic Bastiat
III. Present at the Creation by Dean Acheson
IV. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
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This is a text that I have always wanted to own, but hesitated because of the many others I have concerning free market economics. Finally, I decided it is time; and, as touted through the years, it has been my mistake. Free market economics can be taught in one lesson, if taught by Hazlitt; and, everyone to their everlasting benefit can understand it. If ever a book was written that foresaw how national policies predicated upon economic fallacies could financially destroy a country this is it, and we are now living it.
First published in 1946, at a time of rampant statism in the U.S., Hazlitt outlined precisely the bad consequences of putting the government in charge of our economic life. All that he forewarned against has come true with our one hundred year embracement of Progressive economic sophisms culminating in our Faustian bargain of debt, dependency, and default. The IMF is now estimating our unfunded liabilities as two hundred trillion dollars ($200 T) and as an unsustainable financial burden. Professor Kotlikoff in the article further notes, “... that we should get real…as the U.S. is bankrupt!”
Hazlitt is considered one of the most brilliant public intellectuals of the twentieth century. His bibliography totaled more than 10,000 entries with a major interest in economics but he was not particularly political. Hazlitt was also the most important public intellectual within the Austrian tradition of economics. The Austrian economists were continuously warning against the false promises of ‘free ice cream’ that leads a nation down the road to serfdom. Early on, Hazlitt objected to the regimentation of the regime of the ‘The New Deal’; and that inspired him to promote free markets as the path to individual personal and economic freedom as they are inseparable. Personal liberty was his goal, and exposing and destroying the economic fallacies impeding it was his life.
There are three broad parts of the book: The Lesson, The Lesson Applied, and the Lesson Restated. He begins by stating the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson reduced to a single sentence. “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act of policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
He concludes that about 90% of the economic fallacies that are working such dreadful harm in the world are the result of ignoring that one single lesson. And, given our political history of interest groups manipulating government to benefit themselves at the expense of others, who can repudiate his statement? Hazlitt, in one hundred and eighty three pages, destroys every economic fallacy that not a major government in the world is devoid of, if not having an economy almost wholly determined by these very fallacies.
After reading Economics in One Lesson one will better understand the vision of the Founding Fathers in their determination to create a constrained and limited government to better promote economic liberty. This was to be a nation with a government, not a government with a nation: that freedom works! This book will be popular for as long as democracy survives, as it is a lesson for the American ages.
Do not let your children and grandchildren age before learning the lessons of free market economics, as it is in their best interest to soon do so. Free markets are simply the best of all economic alternatives to enhance the general welfare of its citizens, to promote democracy, to ensure liberty; and, especially, to promote cooperative worldwide peace. Our historic success can be largely attributed to an emphasis for respect of other people’s views along with Western thought and its collaboration with free market economics.
Copies are now on the way to my children with my hearty admonition to make certain their children read it early in life, and often throughout their life. Enjoy!
39th ATS, DAFB, 1962-1965
Book Reviews to Come:
V. The Math Book by Clifford A. Pickover
VI. Before the Dawn by Shimazaki Toson and translated by W.E. Naff
VII. Leviathan by Hobbes
VIII. The Berlin Airlift
IX. Sacred Fire